NextAdvisor Blog - Carissa

Carissa Ratanaphanyarat is a NextAdvisor.com writer who covers personal finance and tech. Carissa received an M.S. in Communication from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University. She has also explored screenwriting at Chapman University’s film school. Keep up with her updates on Twitter @CarissaAdvisor.

Posts by Carissa:

How to Dispose of Your Devices While Protecting Your Data

The time has come: maybe the smartphone you’ve been glued to for the past couple of years has been freezing up on you, or you’ve decided that you need to move on to a laptop that can actually run the software you need it to run. After
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3 Credit Card Myths Hurting Your Wallet

When you think of credit cards, what comes to mind? Do you think of them as bad news or scams? We commonly see reader comments and questions grounded in myths. The thing is, many credit card myths are easy to dispel, but they could be hurting you
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Watch Out for These 6 Holiday Scams

While many pull out their Christmas trees, dreidels and decor to spread cheer during the holiday season, con artists are known to pull off holiday scams, taking advantage of the goodwill and jolly spirits that abound during this festive time of the year. Unfortunately, though this season
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What to Know Before Getting Your First Credit Card

If you don’t have a credit card, it’s probably something you’re thinking of adding to your wallet. That’s because when used responsibly, a credit card can help you build your credit history, earn you rewards and even arm you with more fraud protection than debit cards. While
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Social Media Privacy Mistakes to Avoid When You’re on Vacation

As the date of departure for your upcoming vacation approaches, it’s natural to feel excited about the endless picture-perfect opportunities and social media possibilities you’ll have during your trip. After all, you’ll be basking in the glow of tropical waters, strolling by ancient ruins or enjoying delectable
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How to Have a Budget-Friendly Holiday Season

Between all the gift shopping, grocery runs and travel to sunnier beaches and greener pastures, it’s no surprise that the holiday season can be a costly money drainer. In fact, in the U.S., holiday debt is a real problem — last November, the country’s credit card debt
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Does Checking Your Own Credit Reports Affect Your Credit Scores?

After going through Credit Reports 101 and hearing about the latest data breaches, you’re now wanting to check your credit reports for errors and potentially fraudulent accounts, as it’s no secret that doing so could allow you to avoid getting severely hurt by identity theft. But before
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3 Ways You Can Lose Your Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards and rewards usually go hand-in-hand. After all, it’s a major plus if you can earn cash back, points or miles for using your credit card responsibly. That said, while certain credit cards can give you the opportunity to reap huge rewards, if you aren’t careful,
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Your Social Security Number Was Stolen! Now What?

It’s the stuff of nightmares: your credit card was declined at your favorite restaurant or store for no apparent reason, creditors are calling to collect unpaid bills you’re unaware of or the IRS notifies you that someone has filed a tax return in your name before you.
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Do Banks Share Your Personal Information with Third Parties?

It was reported recently that Facebook is in talks with banks to implement data-sharing partnerships and gather financial information as well as social media user data. While Facebook has denied that it’s asking for financial data, this whole situation has made plenty of people, including us, wonder
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Best Credit Cards for Your Holiday Grocery Haul

The holiday season has finally turkey-trotted its way to our doorsteps, which means that it’s time for you to start planning the annual feasts you’re throwing for your friends and loved ones at your home. But between that splurge on a bronze fondue pot, bottles of festive
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3 Credit Card Nightmares to Avoid This Halloween

As the Halloween moon comes upon us, casting its jack-o’-lantern glow and haunting us once again, thoughts of credit card nightmares have crept into the minds of those of us at NextAdvisor. While there are horrifying credit card situations you can get dragged into if you aren’t
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Cybersecurity Matters: Don’t Make These Cybersecurity Mistakes I’ve Made

On the morning of Sept. 28, after waking up and refusing to get out of bed, I excitedly checked my phone and saw an unopened email. (Don’t judge: it’s a highlight of my day.) It turned out it was a data breach notice from textbook rental company
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Why Should You Get a Credit Card?

You might be familiar with the commonly discussed horror stories associated with credit cards. Perhaps you recall tales of credit card users getting drawn into black holes of debt, or maybe you’ve heard about the negative impacts of data breaches on many credit card holders. While there
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What Types of Credit Card Rewards Can You Earn?

Many benefits may come to mind when you think of credit cards and what they offer, including the convenience they provide, the credit history they build, the extra protection cardholders get and more. But when you’re ready to apply for a new credit card, it’s a good
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4 Signs You’re More Susceptible to Scams

Despite common beliefs and assumptions, the truth of the matter is that anyone can get scammed. According to a report by the BBC, in two experiments designed to replicate scam solicitations, a vulnerable subtype couldn’t be identified. In fact, the report notes, “There were no significant differences
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Top 3 Low APR Credit Cards

Updated: Oct. 8, 2018 Just the idea of needing to pay a high interest rate for a credit card can be a major deterrent to getting one, but if you’re planning to make a large purchase or working to reduce a balance’s interest, low intro APR credit
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What is the National Consumer Assistance Plan?

Did you know that long-overdue traffic and parking tickets can go to collections, resulting in black marks on your credit reports? Or did you know that having overdue medical bills because of insurance delays could also make an appearance on your credit reports? To stop such incidents
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6 Things You Should Do if You Get Scammed

In past posts, we’ve covered the signs you’re being scammed and different types of scams, but even if you can recognize the signs of a scam, it’s still possible that you could find yourself a victim of one. That’s because scammers can be tricky. In fact, as
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Biometric Privacy Laws: Do They Exist and Why Should You Care?

If you’ve been keeping track of tech advancements in recent years, you’ve likely noticed the appearance and growing use of biometric technology, which measures your unique physical, physiological and behavioral characteristics. From the iPhone X’s Face ID to Mastercard’s experimentation with built-in fingerprint scanners on credit cards,
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7 Signs You’re Being Scammed

If you’ve been on the receiving end of calls or messages from scammers, you probably know what people mean when they describe scams as being baffling, irritating or even frightening. Worst of all, scams can get tricky. According to the Federal Trade Commission, impostor scams topped the
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Important Costs to Consider Before Becoming a Rideshare Driver

As they work to grow their presence, you may have thought about driving for a ridesharing company, a service that assists with arranging rides through a smartphone app or via other means, as a side hustle or full-time gig. While becoming a rideshare driver could earn you
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How to Spot and Avoid 4 Types of ATM Fraud

You may have heard stories of people getting mugged at ATMs, but did you know that there are other ways that thieves can steal from you at an ATM? While you may not think that a trip to the ATM could end with a criminal stealing your
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What Should You Do If Someone Posts False Information About You Online?

Nowadays, it’s pretty much the norm to have an online presence. When you Google your name during one of your regular online checkups, it probably isn’t an unwelcome sight to see your professional website, dapper LinkedIn profile picture and various accolades strewn across the Internet. But what
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Cash or Credit: Which is the Best Payment Option?

“Hmmm … cash, debit or credit?” You wonder as you pull out your wallet. You’re at your neighborhood’s mom-and-pop market, and the cashier has just finished ringing up your day’s groceries: the wheel of Brie, Angus beef, fresh arugula, candy red strawberries and guacamole, and while the
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How to Avoid Credit Card Debt

While a credit card can come with many rewards and perks, a worry that sometimes accompanies credit card ownership is the possibility of getting into debt. However, by being careful and employing certain financial tactics, you’ll be less likely to accumulate outstanding debts through your credit card
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Browser Fingerprinting and Online Privacy: What You Need to Know

At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June 2018, Apple announced that Safari updates for macOS Mojave would better prevent sites and advertisers from tracking you through browser fingerprinting. However, if you’re not a tech-savvy individual, it’s possible that you haven’t heard of this tracking
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The Government’s Biobanks May Be Storing Your Child’s DNA

Most children born at hospitals in the U.S. over the past 50 years have been subjected to a test known as the Newborn Genetic Screening Test, which involves a “heel prick” to collect a blood sample on a special card. These blood samples are then tested for
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How to Keep Your Identity Safe While Traveling

The summer season of sunscreen and sunshine has finally arrived after the cold winter months, which means it may be time for you to embark on your summer travels. While we’ve already explained how you can carry out good security practices as you plan your trip, it’s time
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Top Travel Sites Fail Basic Security Test: How to Protect Yourself

Unfortunately, as we’ve learned from the Orbitz data breach in March, travel websites aren’t immune to hackers. In fact, according to a recent survey of the world’s most popular travel-related sites, 89% of the surveyed sites may even be putting their users’ accounts at risk because of
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Is It Possible to Monitor Your Credit Yourself?

After the Equifax data breach and its widespread effects on consumers, you may have heard financial experts throwing around the term “credit monitoring” more often – and for good reason. Data breaches seems to be occurring more frequently than ever, so it’s become increasingly important to keep
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Can Chip Cards Prevent Payment Card Fraud?

When an influx of chip cards was introduced into the U.S. in 2015, customers drew collective sighs of relief, thinking that these chips would be the needed security measures that can protect their payment cards. However, while those EMV chips on your credit and debit cards may
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Law Enforcement, Social Media and Your Privacy: How Your Data is Used to Solve Crimes

If you followed the story about the Bling Ring, a group of teenagers and young adults who stole from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, you likely aren’t surprised to learn that law enforcement uses social media to solve crimes. In a 2016 social media
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Can You Prevent Payment Card Fraud?

As the number of highly-publicized, large-scale data breaches increases, the possibility of someone getting ahold of your payment card’s information may have moved to the forefront of your mind. While card fraud can’t be completely prevented, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances
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Smart Devices, Criminal Investigations and Your Privacy: What You Need to Know

In September 2016, Caroline Nilsson emerged from her mother-in-law’s house around 10:10 p.m., gagged. The police were called, and Caroline’s mother-in-law, 57-year-old Myrna Nilsson, was found dead in the laundry room. Caroline claimed that a group of men had followed Myrna home earlier, and Caroline did not
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3 Tech Advancements That Protect Your Credit and Debit Cards

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you might be aware that four major credit card networks (i.e., Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover) are doing away with credit card signature verification for various reasons, with technological improvements cited as being one of them. Have you
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Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover Do Away with Card Signature Verification

If you’ve been using your credit card at checkout recently, have you noticed a reduction in the number of times you need to provide signatures? Starting this month, American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa relaxed their policies regarding signature requirements at checkout. Read on to find out
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Orbitz Data Breach Exposes 880,000 Payment Cards

Updated: March 26, 2018 On March 20, 2018, travel website Orbitz, an Expedia subsidiary, disclosed that 880,000 payment cards may have been exposed in a data breach. According to Orbitz, an attacker possibly accessed sensitive personal identifying information, which was stored on a legacy Orbitz travel booking
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What is a Credit Card APR?

If you’ve looked through the monthly statements for your credit card or even checked our credit card reviews, you might have run across the term “APR.” Although you might be familiar with the general concept, you may not know the answer to the question, “What is a
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What to Know About DNA Test Privacy Matters

If DNA testing is something you’ve looked into, you may have also wondered what happens with the DNA you provide to a testing service. Since we live in a world of data collecting and selling, it’s only natural to think about these things. Do you actually need
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How Your Credit History May Impact Your Job Hunt

Currently trying to secure a job? Landing a job can be a stressful process, and it’s always important to learn what aspects help determine whether you get hired or not. You may already know that having a polished resume and a personal website could help, but did
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What is a Credit Score?

Updated: June 28, 2018 You’ve probably heard that credit can impact many aspects of your life, and you may have even heard of the correlation between your credit scores and love life, but do you actually know what a credit score is? While we’ve talked about the
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How to Treat Yourself to a Guilt-Free Halloween

The jack-o’-lantern smiles, witch hats and candy corn have arrived in bulk. The aromas of apple pie and cinnamon swirl fill the air, but like a phantom in the back of your mind, you somewhat remember that diet you’ve sworn to stay on before the holiday season
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What is a Credit Report?

Amid the uproar over the Equifax breach, you might have wondered why Facebook commenters and news anchors are mentioning the Equifax breach, credit freezes and credit reports in the same sentence. While we’ve provided an in-depth look at credit freezes, it’s been a while since we’ve explained
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